House Bill HR-1108


Location: FDA Topic: FDA Regulation Page 4 Michael Siegel. American Lung Association Deceives Constituents in Promoting FDA Tobacco Legislation


House Bill HR-1108 FDA Regulation of Tobacco AKA: Screw the Smoker, Give Philip Morris and Big Pharma Market Advantage, and set the stage for Prohibition.

The Truth is Revealed: Philip Morris Helped Draft FDA Tobacco Legislation and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Negotiated Bill with Philip Morris 8/11/08 By Michael Siegel

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Still Hiding the Truth About FDA Tobacco Legislation; Honesty is Just Not Possible from this Organization

August 6, 2008 By Michael Siegel

In an email sent to its constituents this morning, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids once again deceived them by distorting the truth. In the email, the Campaign implied that Big Tobacco (which includes Philip Morris) is opposed to the FDA tobacco legislation and is using its massive lobbying resources to oppose the bill. This is dishonest, as the truth is that Philip Morris strongly supports the bill and is using its massive lobbying resources to promote passage of the legislation.

The email states: “As you know, last Wednesday the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1108 with overwhelming support. Your Representative, X, voted YES to grant the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products! Click here to say thank you! Tobacco companies spent a lot of time and money trying to persuade members of Congress to protect their profits, but Representative X had the courage to do what was right.”

The Rest of the Story

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is being dishonest, and it knows it. It is not truthful to state that the tobacco companies spent a lot of time and money trying to persuade members of Congress to protect their profits by voting against the legislation. The truth is that Philip Morris – the largest tobacco company by far (it holds half of all domestic cigarette market share) – spent a lot of time and money trying to persuade members of Congress to support the legislation.

Regardless of how one feels about the merits of the FDA tobacco legislation, I would hope that we could all agree that public health groups should not be telling untruths to the public in order to promote their position on the legislation.

Ironically, one of the primary purposes of the legislation – as acknowledged by the Campaign itself – is to end the dishonesty and deception by the tobacco companies. The tactic that the Campaign is using to end this dishonesty and deception is to run a campaign of dishonesty and deception.

The unethical behavior of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids just never ceases. I’m beginning to think that this organization is not capable of being honest.

It’s a shame, because it really taints the honesty and integrity of the entire tobacco control movement.

Tobacco Regulation – A Step Forward to a Healthier Nation By Anna Boyd August 4th 2008 In an attempt to lower the number of people becoming addicted of cigarettes and also that of the people dying because smoking-related disease, the House of Representatives voted last Wednesday in favor of a bill that would give the US Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products and to treat tobacco manufacturers similar to drug manufacturers.

House passes bill to regulate tobacco By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, AP 731/08 WASHINGTON -The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation that for the first time would subject the tobacco industry to regulation by federal health authorities charged with promoting public well-being. Its backers call the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act “landmark” legislation. While the bill appears to have enough support to pass this year, it’s unclear whether the Senate will have time to act, and the Bush administration issued a veto threat Wednesday. The 326-102 House vote signaled solid bipartisan support for the measure, with 96 Republicans breaking with President Bush’s position to vote in favor of the bill. Both presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., back the legislation. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., worked for more than a decade to get the House to pass tobacco regulation. “This is truly a historic day in the fight against tobacco,” Waxman said. “But it took us far too long to get here.” The bill would further tighten restrictions on tobacco advertising and impose new federal penalties for selling to minors. But its most far-reaching provisions would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco, from cigarettes to new kinds of smokeless products. “This is truly a historic day in the fight against tobacco,” Waxman said. “But it took us far too long to get here.” The bill would further tighten restrictions on tobacco advertising and impose new federal penalties for selling to minors. But its most far-reaching provisions would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco, from cigarettes to new kinds of smokeless products. While the agency could not outlaw tobacco or nicotine, it could demand the reduction or elimination of cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke. The bill would prohibit candy flavored cigars and cigarettes, and would give the FDA authority to ban menthol _ by far the most commonly added flavoring. Opponents of the bill say having a public health agency regulate tobacco would send the wrong message. Besides, they argue that the agency is overwhelmed dealing with food and drug safety problems, and doesn’t need complicated new responsibilities. “In short, what we don’t need is creating at the FDA a new draconian bureaucracy, since they’re already overburdened and have more work than they know what to do with,” said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Despite decades of health warnings and smoking bans in most indoor spaces, about one in five adults still smokes. Smoking related-illnesses, including cancer and diseases of the heart and lungs, claim an estimated 440,000 lives a year, more than 10 times the number who die in traffic accidents. The bill represents a compromise between major tobacco control groups and Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest tobacco company. The maker of Marlboro cigarettes broke with most of its peers in the industry to support the legislation. Other big companies, including R.J. Reynolds _ the maker of Camel cigarettes _ remain fiercely opposed. Public health advocates supporting the bill say regulation will slowly but surely put pressure on the industry, reducing the overall number of smokers and the harm that is caused by tobacco use. “When you think about it, we regulate pet food, cosmetics, orange juice and many other products,” said Cass Wheeler, CEO of the American Heart Association. “We’re regulated in every other area and unregulated in tobacco products. But tobacco causes more preventable deaths than anything else.” Philip Morris, however, is hoping the legislation could lead to a new market in federally certified, reduced-risk tobacco products. The bill sets up a process for the FDA to scientifically assess manufacturer claims that certain cigarettes are less risky. The legislation appears to set a high bar to such claims. Not only must a reduced-risk product “significantly” reduce harm to tobacco users, but it also must “benefit the health” of the entire population. A less risky cigarette that enticed nonsmokers to light up might not meet that test. Nonetheless, Philip Morris has invested heavily in a new research center to develop less harmful tobacco products. “Our reduced harm research is a big focus for the company,” spokesman Bill Phelps said. Wall Street market analysts predict the legislation will have no major immediate impact on the industry, except to cement Philip Morris’ position as the market leader, since the bill’s advertising restrictions tend to undercut the competition. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who smokes, said he didn’t need the federal government to tell him it was bad for his health. “This is a boneheaded idea,” Boehner said. “How much is enough? How much government do we need?” But some supporters said the bill was more about protecting children than adults. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said tobacco use has become synonymous with rugged independence and a refutation of authority, traits that he said many teens desire. “In large part, the marketing tactics by tobacco manufacturers fanned the flames of youthful angst,” Davis said. A potentially thorny issue as the bill heads to the Senate will be its treatment of menthol, a highly popular flavoring with black smokers. The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network has withdrawn its support for the bill, saying an outright ban on menthol is needed to protect the health of black communities. But with menthol brands accounting for more than one-quarter of cigarettes, Philip Morris’ support for the legislation could be in question if the Senate bans the flavoring. The bill calls for an FDA advisory committee to issue recommendations on methanol in cigarettes within one year of its establishment and requires the agency to publish an action plan for restricting the promotion of methanol and other types of cigarettes to youth. Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report. The bill H.R. 1108. On the Net: Bill text:

Stogie News: House Votes to Regulate Tobacco Under the FDA

July 31st, 2008

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 326-102 to place tobacco under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration. The move would give FDA bureaucrats the ability to regulate tobacco as well as tobacco advertisements, a power that both Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach oppose. In a statement (pdf) released today, the White House threatened to veto the bill if the Senate passes a version pending there and sends it to President Bush’s desk:

“The bill would mandate significant added responsibilities for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that conflict with FDA’s mission of ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs, biologics, and medical devices…

Requiring FDA to oversee the regulation of tobacco products would not only distract the agency from its oversight of food, pharmaceuticals, and medical products but could be perceived by the public as an endorsement that these products are safe, resulting in more people smoking.”

Speaking in favor of the bill, Representative Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-MD) made clear that the goal of the bill wasn’t to make cigarettes safer, but to regulate tobacco to reduce its use: “[Smoking] has a huge cost to our society. We have an opportunity to put an end to that…”

The bill would be a significant step towards the FDA declaring all tobacco products unsafe and thus prohibited. As we’ve written before, in an interesting twist, the law forbids the FDA from certifying that some forms of tobacco are safer than others, despite a mountain of evidence, meaning that the only “regulation” the FDA would have at its disposal would be limits on advertising or bans on certain types of tobacco products.

While the bill’s primary target seems to be cigarettes, it could have dire effects on cigar smokers. Besides being another step down the road to complete tobacco prohibition, FDA regulation may mean substantially limited advertising of cigars in magazines and also potentially on websites such as this one. If FDA mandates mean that cigar makers have to worry about nicotine (or other chemical) levels in cigars, it would stifle the creativity that has marked the cigar industry in recent years.

The bill also includes a prohibition on flavored cigarettes (although, oddly, it contains an exception for Menthol). While it is not clear that the flavored smoke ban would include cigars, if it does flavored cigars like Acid and Havana Honeys could be made illegal. Further, demands for “safer” tobacco products could mean a de facto prohibition for handmade cigars which, unlike cigarettes, cannot change their chemical makeup because they are entirely natural products.

7/31/08 I just read an article regarding FDA bans on smoking on the Natural News website. It is disturbing on several counts.  But the writer is the most disturbing since he writes about freedom to choose, is a proponent of everything natural, and yet hypocritically demonizes those who do not do as he does.  I truly believe in educating a public to make its own decisions regarding the use of anything that is legal regardless of how it affects their health, since this is difficult for anyone to know except the learned self if he takes the time and has the ambition to learn about himself, to know thyself.  What truly bothers me about this writer is the sneaky way he demonizes the smokers.  I often wonder if these type of hypocrites feel the same way about car and bus emissions, or better, modern day toxins produced by modern day living.  I too wonder how these hypocrites feel about the martini, liquor, beer and other things other people enjoy sometimes even to the extreme.  I mean, there are those people who are actually allergic to the air with or without cigarette smoke, like fog, humidity, coal burning, wood burning, smells like cedar and pine, etc., etc.   I could go on an on, but I thought you’d enjoy reading this article. An interesting dialectic.  If this author truly believes in freedom, and taking responsibility for ones actions and decisions, then why the demonizing and calling all smokers idiots –  see what I mean? – A Newsletter Reader
Here is the link to the article: Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco? Health Freedom Advocate Says Criminalizing Cigarettes is a Mistake Thursday, July 31, 2008 by: Mike Adams
The U.S. Congress has just voted to categorize tobacco as a drug, handing the FDA regulatory authority to control the advertising, marketing and sales of cigarettes. This hilarious move, if approved by the Senate and signed by the President, would put the FDA in the position of approving the sale of a “drug” that the entire medical community openly admits kills millions of people. According to the CDC, tobacco kills 438,000 people each year in the United States alone (1). Now, thanks to the U.S. Congress, the FDA could soon be the government office responsible for allowing these 438,000 deaths each year!

Think about it: Right now, FDA-approved drugs kill around 100,000 Americans a year, and that’s if you believe the conservative figures from the American Medical Association (the real numbers are at least double that). Add tobacco deaths to that list, and you come to the startling realization that if tobacco is considered an FDA-approved “drug,” then FDA-approved drugs will kill well over half a million Americans each year! (538,000 fatalities a year due to FDA-approved drugs, using government statistics.)

That’s a level of fatalities that terrorists haven’t even come close to approaching.

Why the FDA doesn’t want to regulate tobacco Obviously, the FDA does not want to find itself in this position, because if regulatory authority over tobacco is shoved onto the FDA, it would be forced to declare tobacco an unapproved, unsafe drug and ban its sale.

Why? Because there have been no clinical studies whatsoever supporting the use of tobacco as a medicine. And if it’s considered a drug, then the FDA must apply the same rules to tobacco that it applies to other substances. And there’s absolutely no way a series of clinical trials could show tobacco to be safe or effective at treating disease. (Unless, of course, Big Tobacco funds the studies, in which case cigarette smoke could be made to look like it CURES cancer, thanks to fraudulent science and corrupt researchers…)

Thus, if the FDA were to follow its own rules, it would have to ban tobacco outright, considering it an “unapproved drug” and raid all the tobacco companies, confiscating their inventory and dragging them into court just like the FDA does with diet pills companies or cherry growers.

Of course, the FDA could decide to selectively NOT enforce its own rules against tobacco companies, but that puts the agency in an even worse position of making an exception on its drug enforcement policy, singling out the most dangerous “drug” ever created as one that suspiciously escapes regulatory action. That would make the FDA look like even more of a regulatory failure than it does already, calling into question whether the FDA simply bases its regulatory decisions on the size and influence of the corporation affected rather than genuine public safety.

Because, let’s face it: Cigarettes will kill you. There’s no debate anymore. Even the doctors — who are the slowest people in the world to accept new ideas — are on board with this one. Sure, it took them a few decades to stop running Big Tobacco ads in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and doctors used to take money from the tobacco companies to say cigarettes are “Recommended by doctors,” but those days are long gone. Today, virtually everyone agrees smoking cigarettes is one of the most dangerous activities a consumer can engage in when it comes to health.

So how on Earth, then, could the FDA allow cigarettes to continue to be sold at all? If it enforces its own rules, it would simply have to ban cigarettes altogether.

And I say banning cigarettes outright is a huge mistake. Here’s why:

Why a ban on cigarettes is a threat to your freedom Now, I’m the first to say that it would be great if everybody in the country stopped smoking cigarettes. I hate the things, and most of the people who smoke them are the most idiotic, brain-numbed people you’ll ever meet. I’ve watched numerous family members die from cancers that were no doubt caused by cigarette smoke, so I have every reason to support any reasonable effort to outlaw them.

Except I don’t believe government should be in the business of telling consumers what they can and can’t smoke. If someone wants to light up and kill themselves in their own living room, go right ahead! I just don’t think the rest of the taxpayers should have to pay for their health care!

Yep, you heard me right: Don’t ban cigarettes, just ban government-funded health care benefits to people who choose to smoke (make them buy their own smokers’ health insurance). After all, if they want to commit suicide with tobacco, why should the taxpayers pay for their cancer treatments, hospital stays and artificial lungs? Every time someone lights up a cigarette, they’re creating a cost burden to society — a burden paid for by people like you and me who actually take care of our health. Thus, their smoking steals money from OUR pockets.

Non-smokers are subsidizing the disastrous health care costs of smokers, and I think it’s time we stopped. After all, if people want to kill themselves with cigarettes, why should we interfere with health care services that try to save their lives? Shouldn’t we just give them the freedom to die the way they’ve chosen by smoking cigarettes in the first place? (If you really believe in freedom, you see, then you also believe in the freedom for people to die the way they choose, and some people choose to die from cancer. If that’s the way they want to live and die, that’s their choice!)

Use economic incentives to help people quit smoking While I recommend we stop providing taxpayer-funded health care services for people who smoke, I think we should also offer health care service incentives to help people quit smoking. For example, stop-smoking seminars, hypnosis programs, and other educational efforts should be offered for free (paid for with taxpayer dollars), and anyone who quits smoking should be openly accepted back onto government-funded health care programs. (There are blood tests that can easily detect nicotine and other cigarette chemicals in the blood…)

We should provide economic incentives for people to stop smoking while putting in place severe economic penalties for those who continue to smoke. That’s the smarter way to keep individual liberty intact while encouraging consumers to take responsibility for their own behaviors. Education programs combined with appropriately-structured economic incentives will drive millions of Americans away from cigarettes without taking away consumer freedoms.

The other option: Turn smokers into criminals and double the prison population… Of course, the FDA could just ban cigarettes altogether, but that would create a new kind of tobacco Prohibition situation where people who light up a cigarette are considered criminals, arrested, and locked away in prisons that are already overcrowded with other non-violent offenders (like people who harmlessly smoked a little weed, which is already illegal…)

Today’s War on Drugs has been a complete disaster. If we launch a War on Tobacco, we’ll just turn the U.S. into an anti-tobacco police state and fills the prisons with people whose only crime was their inability to beat a nicotine addiction.

You see, most people misunderstand the appropriate role of government in a free society. You cannot have “freedom” if you have the government running around criminalizing everything it doesn’t want consumers to engage in. (In Singapore, they’ve banned bubble gum!) Instead, you have to use government to create economic incentives and penalties that allow free-market choice to drive consumers away from those things that are bad for them and towards those things that are good for them.

That’s why we should stop subsidizing corn and sugar, by the way: It makes sugar cheaper than it should be and actually encourages consumers to buy more products made with sugar. Corn subsidies make high-fructose corn syrup artificially cheap, too, which is why you find that obesity-promiting ingredient in so many foods and beverages.

Banning cigarettes will simply not work: Addicts will find ways to smoke a little leaf, regardless of the law. And turning them into criminals does not solve the problem. Instead, you need to provide education, services and support that helps consumers get off cigarettes and onto a healthier lifestyle.

Most people who smoke, after all, would like to quit! Consumers are already trending in the right direction on this issue, and with a little help, we could get tens of millions of Americans off these cancer-causing tobacco products and onto a healthier lifestyle.

That’s why creating economic policies that support the transition away from cigarettes is the best way to accomplish the goals of getting people to stop smoking.

The easiest way to do this, of course, is to raise the tax on cigarettes. Go crazy with it: Make it cost $10 a pack, and then use that money to pay for the public education ads that tell people to stop smoking.

Denying health care services to smokers is another way to create an economic penalty for smoking. But my suggestion on this is mostly satirical, since such a policy would be considered cruel and would never become law. (I maintain, however, that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the health care services of smokers. They should be financially responsible to pay for their own cancer treatments, heart surgeries, etc.)

A third way to stop smoking is to make it extremely inconvenient for smokers, such as banning smoking everywhere other than a smoker’s own home or vehicle. This is already working in some cities, and it’s good public health policy because secondhand smoke is highly toxic, too, and those of us interested in being healthy shouldn’t have to breathe the toxic smoke exhaled from people who insist on puffing on cancer sticks.

With a little creativity, a government can create such strong incentives for moving away from smoking that very few consumers will persist in their smoking habits, and that will ultimately save millions of lives and billions of dollars.

Why government should get off our backs and out of our private lives Banning cigarettes outright is not the answer, nor is granting the FDA regulatory control over tobacco. Sure, in a do-nothing government that remains suspiciously friendly to the tobacco industry, shoving regulatory control over tobacco into the hands of the FDA may be the only remaining option for initiating meaningful anti-tobacco action, but in no way is it an ideal solution to this complex problem. In fact, it could lead to the mass criminalization of innocent Americans who need help quitting, not prison time.

Government, by default, greatly overestimates the power of its role in making decisions for free people. In fact, most governments are incredibly arrogant and demeaning to the People. I think we should put freedom into the hands of consumers and let them live (or die) from the consequences of their own actions.

Consumers who choose to avoid cigarettes will live healthier, longer lives with far lower medical costs. Consumers who choose to smoke cigarettes will live diseased, shorter lives with far higher medical costs, and they’ll often die painful cancer deaths. But as long as people are told all this up front, I believe we should let people make their own decisions on this matter. As long as they don’t waste taxpayer money on their own sky-high health care costs, I don’t see that it’s any of our business telling people how they should live or die.

You see, I believe in REAL freedom, not the false freedom marketed by the Bush Administration in its delusional “war on terror.” Real freedom means putting power (and responsibility) back into the hands of consumers and letting them decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives. It also means getting government off your backs, out of your finances, and away from your private lives.

And I certainly don’t think any government should tell you what you can or can’t smoke. Even if it kills you.

Yes, government can ban tobacco advertising and marketing. That makes sense. It can restrict sales to people of a certain age, or even run public service announcements that attempt to educate consumers about reasons why they should stop smoking. But it should never turn smokers into criminals. Smoking is not a crime. It’s stupid, but it’s not criminal. (Unless you do it in MY house, in which case, I do consider it a criminal act, and I’ll boot you right out the front door…)

AMA Calls on U.S. House to Better Protect Americans From the Dangers of Tobacco July 29, 2008 PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — House must pass legislation to give FDA needed regulatory authority over tobacco products The following is a statement by Ron Davis, M.D., American Medical Association Immediate Past President: “This week, the U.S. House of Representatives must take a critical step to combat smoking-related diseases by passing the ‘Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act’ and giving the FDA needed regulatory authority over tobacco products. “Given what we know about the dangers of smoking, it is astonishing that tobacco products are one of the least regulated products in our society. Congressional action to provide the FDA with strong and effective regulatory authority over tobacco products is long overdue. The bill will stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children, further restrict marketing, especially to kids, and require more informative health warnings on each package. “The FDA currently serves a vital role in protecting the health of Americans through the regulation of food and drugs. This bill ensures that the FDA will have the resources necessary to regulate the tobacco industry in addition to its current responsibilities. We should not let another day go by without taking the important step of passing this legislation to enact long-overdue controls over these deadly products.” SOURCE American Medical Association

From a Newsletter Reader:

This comes from an odd source but we really do need to voice our opinion before it’s too late!

All Representatives can be called at 202-224-3121, with other contact information at
– – – –
Smokefree Pennsylvania 1926 Monongahela Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15218 412-351-5880
July 28, 2008
The Honorable Mike Doyle U.S. House of Representatives 401 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
RE: FDA tobacco regulatory legislation (H.R.1108)
Dear Representative Doyle:
Smokefree Pennsylvania urges you to oppose H.R. 1108, a negotiated deal agreed to by cigarette giant Philip Morris and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in 2004, because it:
– deceives the public to believe that smokefree products are just as hazardous as cigarettes, – protects cigarettes and Philip Morris from market competition by smokefree products, – authorizes and paves the way for FDA to perpetuate the safer cigarette myth/fraud, and – denies the FDA authority to halt cigarette marketing/sales to high school students.
Sound regulations truthfully inform consumers about the known risks of different products. Cigarettes are about 100 times deadlier than smokefree (i.e. smokeless) tobacco products, but nearly 90% of smokers incorrectly believe that smokefree tobacco products are just as hazardous as cigarettes.  Instead of accurately informing smokers about product risks, H.R. 1108 protects cigarettes (especially Marlboro) by perpetuating this myth/fraud.
Smokers can sharply reduce their health risks by switching to smokefree tobacco products, and tobacco consumers have a right to know the huge differences in risks posed by these tobacco products.  I coauthored a report “Tobacco harm reduction: an alternative cessation strategy for addicted smokers” at
Sound regulations also provide incentives for industry to develop and transition to safer products.  Tobacco consumers in the U.S. now obtain about 80% of their nicotine from the deadliest product (cigarettes), and about 20% from the least hazardous tobacco/nicotine products (smokefree). But H.R. 1108 discourages cigarette companies from developing and marketing less hazardous alternatives by prohibiting all smokefree tobacco products from truthfully claiming they are less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes, and by requiring all smokefree tobacco products to contain even larger deceptive warning labels stating: “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
While H.R. 1108 properly bans deceptive “low-tar”, “light” and “mild” brand descriptors for cigarettes, the bill simultaneously perpetuates this deadly consumer health myth/fraud (also incorrectly believed by about 85% of smokers) that some cigarettes are safer than others by failing to warn smokers that all cigarettes are equally hazardous, and by authorizing and paving the way for the FDA to establish deceptive cigarette emission standards based upon inaccurate cigarette machine tests (which is what created the low-tar/lights safer cigarette myth/fraud several decades ago under FTC oversight).
Also, in sharp contrast to claims that H.R. 1108 would halt tobacco industry marketing to youth, Section 906(d)(3)(A)(ii) of the legislation protects the tobacco industry by prohibiting the FDA from halting tobacco sales to high school students (by prohibiting the FDA from ending tobacco sales to 18 or 19 year olds), ensuring that millions of high school students will continue becoming addicted to cigarettes under FDA oversight.
Smokefree Pennsylvania strongly supports reasonable and responsible federal regulations for different tobacco products.  But Philip Morris’ Marlboro cigarette brand is the primary beneficiary of H.R. 1108, not public health nor tobacco consumers.
Since 1990, Smokefree Pennsylvania has advocated policies to reduce tobacco smoke pollution indoors, increase cigarette taxes, reduce tobacco marketing to youth, preserve civil justice remedies for victims, expand smoking cessation services, and inform smokers that smokefree tobacco/nicotine products are far less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes.
Thank you for your consideration, and feel free to contact me anytime.
Sincerely, William T. Godshall, MPH Executive DirectorAWMA & NATO Issue Joint Letter on FDA Bill

The American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA) and the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) have issued a joint letter to all 435 U.S. Representatives outlining serious concerns that the two national organizations have with the pending bill in Congress to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products.

In the joint letter, three main concerns about the FDA legislation are highlighted. First, the bill grants the FDA virtually unlimited powers to adopt future regulations based solely on public health concerns without taking into account the negative impact such regulations would have on distributors and retailers. Second, the bill grants the FDA, other federal agencies, states, counties and cities the express authority to virtually prohibit the distribution, sale, advertising, promotion, possession and use of tobacco products. Third, the “user fees” that would be charged to manufacturers to fund the FDA regulation would amount to $7.6 billion over the first ten years of regulation which would more appropriately be labeled a new tax to be paid by consumers that purchase tobacco products.

In short, the joint letter concludes that the FDA bill “is a complex piece of legislation that creates a new federal bureaucracy to enact onerous regulations that will likely place hundreds of wholesalers and thousands of retail stores in jeopardy of going out of business with the consequent laying off of untold millions of employees.”

Blacks in Congress Split Over Menthol Cigarettes

July 25, 2008 By STEPHANIE SAUL

Free cigarettes are no longer handed out at Congressional Black Caucus functions. And it has been years since anyone referred to Edolphus Towns, Democrat of Brooklyn, as the “Marlboro Man” for his campaign contributions from the tobacco industry.

But the Congressional Black Caucus has not severed its financial ties to big tobacco. And that can complicate matters when the political discussion involves smoking’s impact on African-Americans.

A rift has opened in the 43-member caucus over a menthol provision in legislation that would enable the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. To reduce smoking’s appeal to teenagers, the legislation would outlaw flavored cigarettes – except for menthol cigarettes, which are specifically exempted.

With menthol brands making up about 28 percent of the $70 billion American cigarette market, the exemption was seen as a necessary compromise to win broad backing for the legislation.

But menthol has become a politically charged subject in Washington because an estimated 75 percent of black smokers choose mentholated brands.

Scientists have long wondered whether menthol might play a role in the disproportionate share of smoking-related cancer among African-Americans – if for no other reason than the additive may mask the harshness of the smoke, making it easier for teenagers to begin smoking.

Critics of the menthol exemption tend to denounce it as a sellout to the tobacco industry, and some members of the black caucus are pressing to narrow the exemption or ban menthol outright. But other caucus members oppose any changes, saying that pushing too hard now on menthol could endanger the legislation.

Concerns about the racial implications of menthol may have been heightened last week by a Harvard study stating that cigarette makers had deliberately manipulated menthol levels to attract young people.

As long as two decades ago, Brown & Williamson, then the maker of Kool cigarettes, concluded that the menthol cigarette was a “good starter product” because new smokers “already know what menthol tastes like, vis-à-vis candy,” according to a company memo.

“It’s a very emotional issue,” said Elijah E. Cummings, a member of the caucus from Maryland who tells stories of the deadly impact of cigarette smoking in his hometown, Baltimore. He opposes the menthol exemption.

But the caucus’s chairwoman, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, says its members, all Democrats, are deeply divided on the subject. “The caucus is split,” she said. “We do want to see menthol regulated, but we’re convinced that eliminating or prohibiting menthol would be a killer for the bill.”

The legislation in its current form, with the menthol exemption, has broad support in the House. It also has the backing of many health groups, as well as the nation’s biggest cigarette company, Philip Morris USA, whose support is considered crucial for passage. The company makes Marlboro Menthol, the second-biggest menthol brand.

Philip Morris over the years has been one of the biggest contributors to the caucus’s nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. That financial support, in some years exceeding $250,000, and lesser amounts at times from other cigarette makers, has been the reason some critics perceived an alliance between big tobacco and African-American members of Congress, some of whom were willing to help fend off antitobacco efforts.

Among them, some critics have said, was Charles B. Rangel of New York. Although he supported some antitobacco initiatives, until the last few years Mr. Rangel staunchly opposed federal tobacco tax increases. He has said his stand was based on the disproportionate effect of excise taxes on the poor, not the thousands of dollars he received in tobacco industry political action committee donations.

Some caucus members have always seen tobacco money as a Faustian bargain and refused to take such donations, urging their colleagues to do likewise. One of them, John Lewis of Georgia, once told a reporter, “People are reluctant to criticize the giver, to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Black lawmakers who maintain strong tobacco industry ties include James E. Clyburn, who represents a tobacco-growing region of South Carolina and is majority whip of the House. Last year, Altria, the parent of Philip Morris, donated $50,000 to an endowment he established at South Carolina State University, a historically black college.

And yet, even before the menthol controversy erupted, tobacco money was gradually becoming less crucial to the group, as it attracted more money from a broader segment of industries, including drug makers.

Last year the caucus unanimously supported legislation to finance the children’s health insurance program, Schip, with a 45-cent tax increase on tobacco products. Mr. Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sponsored the legislation. The caucus has sponsored college antismoking programs and smoking-cessation talks.

Ms. Kilpatrick, from Michigan, said the black caucus was drafting an amendment to the House tobacco regulation bill, possibly to call for a study of menthol. That is short of what some members had hoped for – a phase-out of menthol cigarettes.

Philip Morris declined to say whether the company would continue its support for the bill if menthol were banned.

Some supporters of the legislation in its current form argue that an outright ban on menthol may drive menthol smokers to contraband imported cigarettes.

The Bush administration opposes the tobacco legislation, saying it would do more harm than good by seeming to give an F.D.A. imprimatur to smoking. In the Senate, the issue is not expected to be taken up until after a House floor vote, which could come before the end of July.

Tobacco companies opposed to the legislation include Lorillard, maker of the leading menthol brand, Newport, the favorite of African-American smokers. The company, which says there is no scientific evidence that menthol is harmful, argues that the legislation’ s marketing restrictions would place smaller companies at a competitive disadvantage against the giant, Philip Morris.

Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, who is the House bill’s sponsor, has indicated he is unwilling to risk the bill’s passage by making major changes in its menthol language. He has said the bill gives the F.D.A. the power to regulate menthol if it is shown to be harmful. In transmitting the bill to the House of Representatives last week, the Energy and Commerce Committee included a note that urged the F.D.A. to “move quickly to address the unique public health issues posed by menthol cigarettes.”

Two former federal health secretaries, Joseph A. Califano Jr. and Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, who is African-American, met recently with Mr. Waxman to argue against the menthol exemption. Because he said he was unlikely to change his mind, they later sent him a letter saying “the current version of the bill, which gives menthol a protected status, would have the effect of discriminating against the health interests of African-Americans. ” The letter was also signed by William S. Robinson, executive director of the National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network.

In response to a reporter’s query, Mr. Waxman said in a written response, “I’ve clearly heard the concerns that we can and should do more to address the issue of menthol in cigarettes.”

For his part, Mr. Cummings, listed as one of 234 co-sponsors of the legislation along with many other members of the black caucus, said he could not predict how he or the others would vote. Mr. Cummings, who formerly served as chairman of the caucus, acknowledged that tobacco contributions might have influenced caucus members in the past.

But he added, “When you look in a cancer patient’s eye, I think it becomes much more difficult to look at the contributions that may be given to support the caucus and be swayed by them than it was before.”

FDA/Core Mission

Energy and Commerce Committee to Consider FDA Legislation Next Week

AWMA Update

March 27, 2008

Author N/A

Recently, AWMA reported that the House Subcommittee on Health had approved legislation – HR 1108 – that would provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with broad regulatory power to regulate all tobacco products.  This measure is now slated to be considered by the full Committee on Energy and Commerce sometime during the first week of April.

Rep. Pallone and NJ Health Advocates: New Generation of Tobacco Products Threatens Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use in New Jersey

Politcker NJ

March 26, 2008

By Rachel Napear

Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) spoke to students at James Monroe Elementary School today and explained how an insidious new generation of tobacco products is threatening efforts to reduce tobacco use in the United States.

McCain: GOP and the Economy

First Read – MSNBC

March 26, 2008

Author N/A

…The Boston Globe notes, “McCain’s longtime effort to crack down on tobacco is being put to a new test. Within weeks, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. McCain agreed months ago to cosponsor the current bill with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, but McCain’s policy adviser said the senator won’t commit to voting for it until he sees the final legislation.

Will McCain Abandon His Past Efforts to regulate tobacco in order to pander to conservatives?

Think Progress

March 26, 2008

In 1998, while pushing his bill that would increase cigarette taxes by $1.10 over five years, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued that it was “time to put an end to” tobacco companies encouraging “children to purchase tobacco in every state in the country.” Though McCain’s bill “fell three votes short of the needed 60 to end a filibuster,” he declared at the time that he would “never” give up his efforts to regulate the industry.

FDA Boss: Unfunded Provisions Giving Agency Headache

Congress Daily

March 26, 2008

By Anna Edney

FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach told food and drug lawyers today the agency is struggling with ambiguities and a lack of resources as it works to implement an agency overhaul Congress passed in the summer. Von Eschenbach praised much of the bill for the new authorities and drug-industry user fees it granted the agency but bemoaned other unfunded provisions that are causing FDA to reshuffle its deck.

Our impoverished FDA

The Washington Times

March 27, 2008

By Henry Miller

The head of the Food and Drug Administration, the nation’s most ubiquitous regulatory agency — which regulates products accounting for 25 cents of every consumer dollar — is crying poor. Dissatisfied with the 5.7 percent increase proposed in the Bush administration’s 2009 budget, FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach said in a Wall Street Journal interview that the agency is in a financial bind and that he had requested more.

CQ’s Carey Discusses Tobacco Regulation; Congressional Testimony By Medical Researchers; PEPFAR Reauthorization; House, Senate Budget Resolutions

Medical News Today

March 18, 2008

Mary Agnes Carey, associate editor of CQ HealthBeat, examines legislation that would require FDA to regulate tobacco products, NIH funding, reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the House and Senate fiscal year 2009 budget resolutions in this week’s “Health on the Hill from and CQ.”

American Lung Association Deceives Constituents in Promoting FDA Tobacco Legislation

March 10, 2008 By Michael Siegel In an effort to promote the proposed FDA tobacco legislation, the American Lung Association (ALA) is telling its constituents and the rest of the public that the bills presently before Congress would ban all flavored cigarettes. In addition, the ALA is telling the public that the legislation would require changes in tobacco products to reduce their harm, such as reduction of harmful smoke components.
According to the ALA: “The FDA bill would ban flavored cigarettes and crack down on other marketing to our kids.”
In addition: “Effective FDA authority over tobacco products will protect public health, improve consumer awareness and save lives. It will … Require changes in tobacco products to reduce harm such as reduction of harmful components when technologically feasible.” The Rest of the Story
There are just 2 problems with the American Lung Association’s statements.
First, the FDA bill does not ban all cigarette flavorings. It only bans the ones which are rarely used, such as: chocolate, cherry, banana, and strawberry. But it explicitly exempts menthol, which is overwhelmingly the chief flavoring used in United States cigarettes.
According to the most recent Federal Trade Commission cigarette report, menthol cigarettes make up 27% of the domestic cigarette market. Thus, contrary to the ALA’s assertion that flavored cigarettes will be banned, the legislation will allow the sale of menthol flavored cigarettes – 27% of the current market – to continue. This is particularly concerning for the African-American community, as menthol cigarette use is high among this group and menthol is used to recruit young African-American smokers.
Second, the FDA bill does not require changes which will reduce the harm from cigarettes. In fact, it merely allows, but does not require, that FDA promulgate standards which call for the reduction or elimination of certain cigarette smoke constituents, ingredients, or additives.
Thus, the FDA could take no action at all. Moreover, the ALA has not produced any evidence whatsoever that a “safety standard” for cigarettes could produce a safer cigarette. Any such standards promulgated by the FDA will be a pure guess. But consumers will assume that cigarettes have been made safer.
In other words, the fraud that is purportedly being committed by cigarette companies in implying that certain cigarette brands are safer will now be transferred over to the federal government. And it will apply not just to specific types of cigarettes, but to all cigarettes.
Regardless of my individual opposition to the FDA legislation, I find it unethical for the American Lung Association to mislead its constituents and the public by being dishonest and deceiving them about what the legislation does and does not require.
My true feeling is that this legislation is so weak and contains so many compromises to appease Philip Morris that organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Lung Association, and the American Medical Association cannot afford to tell the truth about it. Doing so would expose it for the Philip Morris protection scam that it really is.
So it’s no surprise that the American Lung Association has joined the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Cancer Society in being dishonest and deceptive about the FDA legislation. This appears to be their only choice if they don’t want the public’s perception of the bill as one that protects public health to come crumbling to the ground. But it still doesn’t make it right to deceive the public.

Read more from Michael Siegel

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